In terms of style and technique, Mary Cassatt and Renoir painted in a particualr style, many painting outdoors instead of in the studio, which was a new technique.
What style of art is this, and what is the primary technique of the style?
Impressionism burgeoned in the 1860s as Paris came alive with a Bohemian period in which artists spent much time together arguing technique and style and poking fun of the Academy and the Salons that dictated form. A strong argument arose from these discussions for painting en plein air; that is, taking the easel out of the dark studio and creating paintings outdoors where light played upon the artists' subjects.
One approach to their paintings that the Impressionists took was to be "Only an Eye." In other words, they sought to become pure sensation registering the seen image into the painted image. Renoir described this technique metaphorically as being "the cork bobbing on the water." Thus, subjectivity is no longer sentimental, but it is purely a physical response, painting what one sees without transposition. The Impressionists sought to capture through the vibration of colors generated by changing light what art critic Francesca Castellani calls the
fragrant, pregnant immediacy of the ephemeral instant--which is tantamount to the essence of "modernity": variation.
With the play of light upon his canvas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir created life upon his canvases. Renoir, then, used perceptual color, color as perceived by the eye that is changed by the effects of light and atmosphere. This perceptual color is in complete opposition to arbitrary color which is color used by the interpretive artist (e.g.a blue horse). Perceptual color also differs from local color which is the actual hue of color without any play of light, and optical color which is the juxtaposition of dots of pure hues that the eye then mixes together. However, this optical color was used by the Impressionist George Seurat in, among others, his famous painting,Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de laGrande Jatte [Sunday Afternoon on the Grand Jatte] in which red and blue dots, for example, are blended by the eye into the perception of purple.